Saturday, December 11, 2021, marks the first anniversary of the #ForceTheVote discussion that broke out online but was much discussed in leftist circles. What is it about, and is it still relevant today? This post serves to answer the first part of the question, but the answer to the second part of the question is a resounding yes.
I have written this post because this topic has been on my mind for an entire year. Also, establishing a universal health care system for the United States has been my goal for much longer. That said, I want to recount a bit of history. Even if what I discuss might not sound all that important, people’s motivations are. And what I have seen in this discussion points to a major problem in Western politicians and our society at large.
I was there for most of the Twitter drama surrounding #ForceTheVote. At the time, I decided to grab as many screenshots of tweets as I could. Unfortunately, I lost them all because my stupid computer hard drive crashed in the middle of January 2021. I had to purchase another PC and take only the most relevant screenshots.
There is a lot to discuss since much has happened in a year, and the discussion about #ForceTheVote has not gone away. I am going to break this up into a few posts and use this one to give you some background Information on #ForceTheVote.
What the Movement Was About
On November 27, 2020, Jimmy Dore shared an idea during one of his live streams. He suggested that Americans pressure so-called progressives in Congress to force a vote for Medicare for All in exchange for a vote to keep Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) as House Speaker.
Progressive voters could act by contacting the following 15 members of the House Progressive Caucus:
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Ayanna Pressley
- Barbara Lee
- Chuy Garcia
- Cori Bush
- Ilhan Omar
- Jamaal Bowman
- Jamie Raskin
- Katie Porter
- Marie Newman
- Mark Pocan
- Pramila Jayapal
- Rashida Tlaib
- Raul Grijalva
- Ro Khanna
On its face, Dore’s call (and, originally, the Democratic Socialists of America organization’s call) to force the vote on Medicare for All is that. Progressives in Congress were supposed to use all the leverage they had to force the Speaker of the House to consider legislation to establish a single-payer health care system for the United States.
Now, there was no guarantee that such a bill would pass (especially given the makeup of the Senate). However, if the legislation managed to pass both houses of Congress, that meant every American would have health care.
However, if the bill failed, we would get all the members of Congress on record for opposing health care coverage for all Americans. That would be especially bad during a raging pandemic. Then we could target those people, namely Democrats (since they are supposed to be the major party representing the left), for primary challenges. This was one aspect of Dore’s push that he wanted to test, and it became apparent a few days after his proposal.
Unfortunately, AOC proved Dore’s point for him, but he got a major assist from Justin Jackson.
How the ‘Force the Vote’ Hashtag Got Started
Jen Perelman made a tweet on the same day that Dore made that suggestion on his live stream, but that tweet didn’t gain much traction.
A few days after Dore made his suggestion, it seemed like it was gaining some traction. Sam Seder made it known that he was aware of the idea, and he expressed his approval of it. He had Emma Vigeland on his show at the time, and she seemed to agree with him.
This was a big deal because most people who were aware of Seder and Dore knew that the two men did not like each other. (They still don’t.) However, Seder would change his mind a few days later.
I believe that Cenk Uygur, the founder of The Young Turks and Dore’s former boss, also expressed tepid support for the idea.
Other than Seder and Uygur’s initial endorsements, virtually no one picked up on this idea until a couple of weeks later, on December 11, 2020. That’s when NFL running back Justin Jackson (from the Los Angeles Chargers) tweeted at Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and asked why she wasn’t planning on doing what Dore suggested.
AOC responded to Jackson, but she shot down the idea.
She thought that had ended the subject, but boy, was she wrong …
Dore eventually saw AOC’s response to Justin Jackson, and he responded, as well.
Many other Twitter users who agreed with Dore joined in.
Soon afterward, the hashtag #ForceTheVote was born.
How Justin Jackson Exposed AOC and the Boutique Left
Of course, the pro-#ForceTheVote crowd was met with resistance. This whole thing turned into a large Twitter spat, and it lasted the whole weekend. People drew lines in the sand, and it became clear that so-called lefties would find reasons to compromise their stated position on health care.
Primarily, people took a side based on the politicians and streamers they criticized or supported. As it turns out, the “progressive” politicians that many of us admired or tried to petition were showing us their hand. They had no intention of fighting for a universal health care system, even during a pandemic. Also, it was becoming clear that the pundits that supported these politicians were doing it for their careers.
After the weekend was over, Richard Medhurst came up with a nickname for the people who stood against FTV: the Boutique Left. Many of these people were well-to-do YouTubers. They were comfortable, so getting health care for everyone was not their priority.
Of course, the fight went beyond these YouTubers. The discussion interested regular viewers and non-viewers who wanted the United States to join the rest of the world in providing its citizens with a universal health care system.
That said, the first people to jump into the fray were YouTubers.
Let’s name names.
The Divide: The Pro-FTV Side
On the pro-#ForceTheVote side, you had YouTubers that included these folks:
- Steph Zamorano (Jimmy Dore’s wife and live stream partner)
- Ron Placone
- Krystal Ball
- Kyle Kulinski
- Briahna Joy Gray
- Graham Elwood
- Jordan Chariton (founder of Status Coup)
- Jenn Dize (co-founder of Status Coup)
- Savage Joy Marie Mann
- Jackson Hinkle
- Fiorella Isabel (from the Convo Couch)
- Craig “Pasta” Jordula (also from the Convo Couch)
- Niko House (the founder of the MCSC Network)
- Nick Brana
- Franco (of Franc Analysis)
- Primo Radical (formally Primo Nutmeg)
- Jamarl Thomas
I should note that Jamarl Thomas had concerns about Jimmy Dore’s reaction to the personal attacks, but Thomas still supported the tactic at the time.
Aaron Maté, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton (all from The Grayzone) didn’t expressly announce their support for the push to force a vote on Medicare for All. However, they jumped in to call out anti-FTV pundits who were attacking Jimmy Dore directly. Maté, for his part, did challenge AOC directly.
The Divide: The Anti-FTV Side
On the anti-#ForceTheVote side, you had YouTubers that included these folks:
- Sam Seder
- Cenk Uygur
- Ana Kasparian
- Benjamin Dixon
- Emma Vigeland
- Nomiki Konst
- Tim Black
- David Doel (A.K.A. The Rational National)
- Francesca Fiorentini
- Ben Sturgis
It pained me to put Tim Black in this group at first. Yet when the flame wars started, he was right there openly dismissing FTV.
Mike Figueredo of The Humanist Report didn’t weigh in on this fight until weeks later. When he did, he seemingly took the side of the anti-FTV people.
Lauren Steiner seemed to be on the fence at first, but she only had criticisms for Dore and some others on the pro-FTV side. That was disappointing.
The #ForceTheVote Town Hall
After the lines were drawn, the people who supported the tactic pushed on. Some people took all their energy and decided to organize an online discussion.
On December 30, 2020, The People’s Party hosted a #ForceTheVote town hall that lasted for over two hours. Many of the speakers talked about their struggles with the American health care system. The speakers included:
- Savage Joy Marie Mann, who talked about her experience with losing her eyesight.
- Scott Desnoyers, who talked about his son.
- Kyle Kulinski, who has shared a story about his late dad in the past.
- Justin Jackson, who shared a story about his mom.
- Jimmy Dore, who talked about his bone illness.
The town hall also included pre-recorded videos from various Americans. Many of these stories are featured on the ForceTheVote.org website.
A lot of these stories are gut-wrenching, reinforcing the point that many Americans are victims of the system.
- In far too many cases, we receive substandard care due to a lack of coverage or we forego care because we cannot afford to pay.
- In other cases, we must fight against insurance companies to get the care that we need. Insurance companies tend to charge people more or block coverage when their customers are “out of network.”
- Health care is often tied to our employment. So, when we lose our jobs, we also lose our health care.
This should not have been controversial, but the people who opposed FTV either ignored the town hall or found some reason to denigrate it. This pattern would continue throughout 2021, along with the persistent arguments against pressuring people’s favorite politicians to do anything.
Until Next Time …
The next post in this series will deal with the terrible arguments against #ForceTheVote. Why are they terrible? I can think of two words: cowardice and opportunism.
Links to Other Posts in the Series
- Piss-Poor Arguments the Anti-#ForceTheVote People Made
- #ForceTheVote: The Fall of ‘the Squad’
- Why the People Who Oppose #ForceTheVote Keep Going After Pro-FTV People
- Why #ForceTheVote Was Right, and the Progressives’ Silence Says Everything
The Jimmy Dore Show. “House Progressives Can FORCE a Medicare For All Vote Now — Here’s How!” YouTube, 27 November 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIqw-mTX6ro. Accessed 25 May 2021.
The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder. “Jimmy Dore FINALLY Gets It Right?” YouTube, 1 December 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c80F1NJ7HIs. Accessed
People’s Podcast | The People’s Party. “#ForceTheVote Town Hall.” YouTube, 30 December 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVyBHFn7hjw. Accessed 11 December 2021.
“Your #MysStory Videos.” ForceTheVote.org, https://forcethevote.org/my-story/. Accessed 11 December 2021.